Back in the time of the cavemen, when life was no more complicated than hunting, fishing and finding shelter; depression was all that common.
Today however, every second patient arrives for their repeat prescription of commonly used antidepressant Prozac, a popular treament for depression. It seems the combination of modern day separation from home, family and friends, coupled with lavish dinner parties, competitive social hierarchies, stressful workloads and alcohol (often forgotten to be a recognised chemical depressant), has led to a society battling with significant quantities of affective mood disorders. Most commonly depression.
It is hard for friends to understand how having everything can actually result in a feeling of emptiness and discontent. As far as they see, you live in a big house, have a car they could only dream about, a cleaner to do the mundane chores and a job that pays ever so much more than theirs. Plus you can afford a personal trainer to keep your physique in check. Through their misconceptions, they fail to recognise the battles experienced when living the seemingly ‘high life’ and trying to make it almost entirely on your own. Their envy fuels a pressure to maintain the image of success and achievement, adding even further to your already hectic workload.
True clinical depression is not a lifestyle choice, it is a genuine illness. A pathophysiology resulting from genetic predispositions, a lack of serotonin (the feel good hormone) within neurotransmitters in the brain and influence from external sources such as pressure from work, loneliness and the difficulties listed above.
Sadly, many insurance companies do not offer financial assistance for those seeking help with of mental illnesses such as treatment for depression. This self-perpetuates the problem. People become depressed, feel unable to seek treatment and the depression grows. Eventually, depression can become all consuming. Over time, mental illnesses can manifest themselves in physical symptoms and are the cause of many symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, pain, anorexia, nausea, palpations and an inability to concentrate or perform daily tasks.
Treatment for Depression
1) Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.
Exercise releases the natural energy and mood booster adrenaline, which carries on in your blood stream throughout the day. Most cities are now full of exercise classes should you also wish for the social and moral support of others.
2) Eat Well.
When we feel low, our bodies crave carbohydrates and sugar for a quick ‘high.’ Sadly this encourages a lot of insulin to be released in compensation, mopping up the newly available blood sugar. The end result is actually decreased blood sugar and a further sugar craving. Eating good, healthy, nutrient rich food, keeps sugars stable and hence a more stable mood and energy.
3) Get Social.
It can be tempting to stay in when we feel down, safe away from anyone that may hurt us or make us feel worse than we do already. The reality is that human beings are sociable creatures and we gain an energy from being with others. Few people are out to hurt us and more often there to lend a hand and show support. Time Out Magazine has a wide array of social groups to consider joining in their directory pages. There are also groups for people who are new to your local area.
Remember the expression ‘better out than in?’ There was a truth to this phrase. If we do not rid our bodies of the ‘bad’ thoughts and feelings circulating, they build up and eventually make us ill. Talking to friends and family is highly recommended. Sometimes we do not feel we can talk to those close to us. For these times, a counsellor or psychotherapist may be beneficial. They usually charge around £50 per hour session. This might seem expensive but it’s a small price to pay to help regain your happiness.
For some, although not all, medication is appropriate to help you through the particularly low points of your depression. There are many on the market and it is important to identify which one is right for you. Despite belief, they are not known to be addictive and have helped many through times that they feel they could otherwise not have coped.
One thing is sure, battling depression alone is very difficult – if not impossible.
This post was written by Dr Jenna Burton, a Pall Mall Medical expert.
We welcome any patients concerned that they are suffering from low mood and worried that they may be depressed. Our doctors are highly skilled at recognising depression and discussing your options for management and how best to cope. We have close links with a number of psychiatrists and psychologists should further treatment for depression be necessary.